The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) applauds the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, affirming the right of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to continue serving America’s children without violating their mission or religious beliefs. The NAE filed an amicus brief in the case, co-authored by NAE Legal Counsel Carl Esbeck and Timothy Belz, both noted First Amendment experts.

“We are delighted that faith-based agencies will be able to continue serving our nation’s most vulnerable children in a way that honors the faith convictions that motivate their efforts,” said NAE President Walter Kim. “We need an all-hands-on-deck response to the foster care crisis, not government mandates that eliminate an important segment of the population based on their religious beliefs. As in the Fulton case, there are numerous foster agencies that specialize and work with various communities. This diversity allows all people to participate meaningfully in society.” 

The Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case involved Catholic foster parents, Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch, who have welcomed more than 45 foster kids into their homes. Fulton, Simms-Bush and other foster parents partnered with Catholic Social Services in these endeavors. But in March 2018, the city of Philadelphia stopped placing kids with foster parents that partnered with Catholic Social Services due to the Catholic Church’s longstanding beliefs about marriage as a partnership of one man and one woman. While not placing foster children in homes of same-sex or unmarried couples, Catholic Social Services would help these couples find another agency that could partner with them. The decision in this case will allow faith-based agencies like Catholic Social Services to continue providing foster placement and support. 

Care for orphans is an integral part of what the Bible calls “pure religion” (James 1:27). Dozens of texts express God’s strong concern that the entire community secure justice and show compassion for children who have lost the protection of their parents. In the United States, religious groups pioneered foster care and adoption services long before government became involved, and they remain an essential part of our national response. 

“With more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system, there is an ongoing need for families to open their homes to vulnerable children,” said Galen Carey, NAE vice president of government relations. “Faith-based agencies are well positioned to mobilize people of faith, who are twice as likely as secular Americans to consider serving as adoptive or foster parents.”